Sacred - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


hieros (G2413) Sacred
hosios (G3741) Holy
hagios (G40) Pure
hagnos (G53) Chaste
Hieros never implies moral excellence in the New Testament and seldom does elsewhere. Hieros is used twice in the New Testament (1 Cor. 9:13; 2 Tim. 3:15), once in the Septuagint (Josh. 6:8: "holy trumpets"), and four times in the Apocrypha (all in 2 Macc). In each case hieros does not refer to persons, who alone are moral agents, but to things. Only rarely is hieros elsewhere applied to people. Thus in Aristophanes hieros anthropos (G444, sacred person) is a man initiated into the mysteries. Pindar called kings hieroi because their dignity comes from the gods. According to Plutarch, the Indian gymnosophists were "sacred [hieroi] and independent men" and "persons sacred [hieroi] and of divine power." Hieros is very close to the Latin sacerand to our sacred. Because it refers to that which may not be violated, hieros constantly is used with abebelos, abatos, and asylos. The inviolable character of hieros springs from its relations, near or remote, to God; theios (G2304) and hieros often are used together. At the same time, this relation is viewed merely as an external one. Thus Pillon wrote: "Hagios expresses the idea of native and inward or moral holiness, while hieros, as the Latin sacer, expresses only the idea of outward holiness or of an inviolability consecrated by law or custom." Tittman stated: "In the word hieros strictly speaking nothing else is thought of except that some person or thing is sacred to God, without consideration of natural disposition or characterparticularly what is devoted to sanctuaries." Thus the priest (hiereus,2409) is a sacredperson in that he serves at God's altar. This does not in the least imply that he is a holyperson as well. He may be a Hophni, a Caiaphas, or an Alexander Borgia. The true antithesis to hieros is bebelos and, though not as perfectly, miaros.
For analytical reasons, hosios is more often grouped with dikaios (G1342) than with the words with which we will associate it below. Hosios and dikaios occur together in Plato, Josephus, and the New Testament (Titus 1:8), as do their derivatives hosios (G3743) and dikaios (G1346; 1 Thess. 2:10) and hosiotes (G3742) and dikaiosyne. Many have argued that hosios describes a person who carefully performs his duties toward God and dikaios a person who carefully performs his duties toward people. In classical Greek there are many passages where such a distinction is explicit or implicit. According to Plato, for example, "doing proper things toward human beings would be doing dikaia, and toward the gods would be hosia." Marcus Antoninus described Socrates as "dikaios in matters concerning humans, hosios in matters concerning the gods." But there is nothing that warrants transferring this distinction to the New Testament or that restricts using dikaios to refer to a person who accurately fulfills the precepts of the second table of the law or of using hosios to refer to one who fulfills the demands of the first table of the law. And, indeed, we would not expect to find such a distinction in the Bible, since Scripture views righteousness as a unit that grows from a single root, as obedience to a single law. There is no room for such an antithesis in Scripture. The one who loves his brother and fulfills his duties toward him loves him in God and for God. The second great commandment is not coordinated with the first (i. e., the "greatest") but subordinated to it and included in it (Mark 12:30-31).
If the Greek hieros is equivalent to the Latin sacer (sacred), then hosios is equivalent to sanctus (holy)"what is supported by ancient and prior holiness"and is the opposite of pollutus (polluted). Some ancient grammarians derived hosios from hazesthai, the Homeric synonym for sebesthai (G4576). Although this is the correct meaning of hosios, it is the wrong etymology. Hosios's derivation remains doubtful. In classical Greek hosios is used far more frequently to refer to things than to persons. When used with boule (G1012) or dike (G1349), hosia refers to the everlasting ordinances that no law or custom has constituted. Such ordinances are prior to all law and custom; they rest on the divine constitution of the moral universe and on man's relation to iton the eternal law. In the noble words of Chrysippus, this eternal law is "king of all divine and human affairs." Thus Homer wrote: "It is not divine law [hosie] to plot evil against one another." The hosios is one who reverences these everlasting ordinances and admits his obligation to them. Hosios is used with eusebes, euorkos, and theios. More than once hosios is contrasted with epiorkos. Things that violate the everlasting ordinances are anosia (G462). For example, a Greek regarded the Egyptian custom of marriage between a brother and sistereven more the Persian custom of marriage between a mother and sonas incestum (incestuous). Plato described those customs that human laws necessarily refer to as abominable as "in no way holy." This would also be true of the omission of burial rites by those from whom they were due, when it was possible to pay themfor example, if Antigone had obeyed Creon's edict and allowed her brother to remain unburied. The nature and obligations of the hosion have never been more nobly declared than in the words the poet put in her mouth: "Nor did I believe that your decrees have so much force, so that a mortal man is able to prevail against the unwritten and firm divine laws [nomina] of the gods." Because hosion is prior to and superior to all human laws, there is the same antithesis between hosia and nomima (cf. G3545) as there is between the Latin fas (divine law) and jus (civil law).
In biblical Greek, hosios's meaning was intensified, though its use remains faithful to its classical heritage. The Septuagint draws a striking distinction between hosios and hagios. Although hosios is used thirty times to translate hasîd, and hagios is used nearly a hundred times to translate qadoš, hosios is never used for the latter or hagios for the former. I believe the same rule holds true universally for their cognates. Even more remarkable is the fact that of the other Greek words that are rarely used to translate hosios and hagios, none that is used for one is ever used for the other. Thus katharos (G2513), which is used to translate the second of these Hebrew words (Num. 5:17), is never used to translate the first; and eleemon, polyeleos, and eulabes are used for the former but never for the latter.
Hagios and hagnos often have been understood as different forms of the same word. They do share the common root hag, which reappears as sac in the Latin sacer (sacred), sancio (consecrate), and in many other Latin words. It is only natural that hagios and hagnos should have much in common, though they have different, clearly distinguishable spheres of meaning. Although hagios only occurs rarely in Attic Greek, Porson was incorrect to say that it is never used by the tragic poets. The basic idea of hagios is separation and consecration and devotion to the service of a deity. Thus hieron mala hagion is "a very holy temple." The idea that such consecration may be anathema(G334) or anathema (G331) is always present in hagios. A closely related idea is that what is set apart from the world and consecrated to God should separate itself from the world's defilements and share in God's purity. In this way hagios quickly acquires a moral significance. The children of Israel must be "a consecrated [hagion] people," not merely in the sense of being God's inheritance, "a special people," but by separating themselves from the abominations of the heathen nations around them (Lev. 19:2; 11:44). Because he is absolutely separate from evil, and because he repels every possibility of sin or defilement and wars against these in every one of his creatures, God has the highest right to the title of hagios
It is somewhat different with hagnos.Hagneia is vaguely and superficially explained as "caution against sins toward the gods, normal service to a god's honor." Clement of Alexandria described it as "abstinence from sins" or "to have holy thoughts." Suidas more accurately defined it as "extreme prudence," and Favorinus called it "freedom from every physical and spiritual defilement." Hagnos refers to that which is "pure." Sometimes this purity is only external or ceremonial, as in this line of Euripides: "I am pure [hagnos] in hands but not in thoughts." In the Septuagint, hagnos's highest meaning refers to ceremonial purification; and in four of its seven uses in the New Testament, this also is true. Hagnos, however, frequently refers to that which is pure in the highest sense. Frequently it is applied to heathen gods and goddesses: Ceres, Proserpine, Jupiter, the Muses, the Sea-nymphs, and above all to Artemis, the virgin goddess in Homer. And in Scripture, hagnos is applied to God himself (1 John 3:3). Compared to the Septuagint's use of hagios (Ps. 12:6; Prov. 20:9), this nobler use of hagnos in the Septuagint is extremely rare. Because impurities like the fleshly ones that defile both the body and the spirit (1 Cor. 6:18-19) are the most serious type, hagnos predominantly is used to express freedom from these. Sometimes in an even more restricted sense, hagnos expresses not only chastity but virginity, as in the oath taken by the priestesses of Bacchus: "I am clean and pure [hagne] of intercourse with a man." Hagneia sometimes has a similar limitation.

If all the preceding analyses are correct, then when Joseph was tempted to sin by his Egyptian mistress (Gen. 39:7-12), he proved himself hosios by reverencing those everlasting sanctities of the marriage bond that God has founded and that one cannot violate without sinning against him: "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Joseph proved to be hagios by separating himself from any unholy fellowship with his temptress. He was hagnos in keeping his body pure and undefiled.

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